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NCL Weekly Notes: March 16 to March 22, 2015

NCL and Alberta Open Come Together for Fantastic Event in Calgary
From March 19 through March 22, teams of all age groups descend on Calgary for a collaborative event between the Alberta Open and the NCL. The combination of the 30th edition of the Alberta Open (now the John Csikos Alberta Open) and the inaugural season of the NCL created a great atmosphere at the Talisman Centre. The Alberta Open consisted of 12U, 14U, and 16U girls and boys categories, with teams competing over four days to earn the chance for the gold medal. The NCL portion of the event consisted of the 3rd and final conference weekend for the western conference 19U age category.
The passion on display in the younger age categories was truly amazing and when the medals were handed out on Sunday, it was easy to see how much the Alberta Open meant to the next generation of water polo players; endless smiles for the winners, and a bit of heartbreak in the eyes of those who had fallen just short.
In the NCL, this was the last conference weekend for the 19U men’s and women’s squads and the games represented the final chance for the western conference teams to establish their position heading into the crossover weekend.
On the men’s side, the Pacific Storm asserted themselves as strong favourites for the National Title. Storm rolled through the weekend, winning each of their five games by a double digit margin. Offensively, the speed and shot-making ability of the Storm players powered a relentless attack; while defensively, their strength and physicality kept the opposition well away from the net. No team could muster more than 8 goals against them in a game. This following stat may best sum up the dominance of Storm in Calgary: Storm scored more goals in their first game (41) then they allowed in all five of their contests combined. (34). Storm’s undefeated record now stands at 15-1-0 and they require only one win from their final 7 games to clinch their spot in Calgary for the National Finals.

The other Western Conference berth for the men was clinched this weekend. The Calgary Torpedoes locked up the host spot as the Calgary Wild are now too far behind in the standings to catch up. The Torpedoes remain 2nd in the western standings, but had a disappointing weekend going 2-0-3 in their 5 games. The real story of the weekend was the Edmonton Tsunami who went 5-0-1 to rocket up the standings and into a tie for third with Fraser Valley. The Tsunami started the year by going 0-5 in Regina, almost sealing their fate before the season even began; but the improvement Edmonton has shown since then has been remarkable. At the 2nd event in Surrey, Edmonton went 4-0-2, before last weekend’s even better success in Calgary. While making the finals is out of the picture, the improvement of the Tsunami over the year has been a great story.
On the women’s side, the Calgary Renegades and Team Saskatchewan have finally been able to distance themselves from the BC clubs, Fraser Valley and Pacific Storm. The 19U women’s western conference has been the most competitive section of the NCL this season, with any of the four teams capable of winning any given match. Saskatchewan and Calgary edged out a little breathing room after the 2nd conference weekend in Surrey and strong performances in Calgary should be enough to ensure they finish 1, 2 in the final standings.
The Renegades have already qualified for the National Finals as the host, but Calgary is fighting tooth and nail with Saskatchewan to claim the title of Western Conference Champion that goes to the team with the most points at the end of the regular season. Saskatchewan came in with a 3-point lead but with two games to play between the clubs, each team controlled their own fate. The teams split their two meetings, with Saskatchewan taking the opener 10-8 in an exciting 4th quarter comeback. The Renegades exacted revenge in the 2nd game, winning 10-9 behind a fourth quarter come back of their own. Kyra Christmas, as she so often does for the Renegades, was at the centre of it all scoring both the tying and go ahead goals late in the 4th quarter. Christmas accounted for 7 of the Renegades 10 goals in that contest and amazingly scored over 40% of the Renegades goals over the four days.
While the Renegades and Saskatchewan split their two meeting, the Renegades swept their other 3 games, while Saskatchewan went 1-1-1 which allowed Calgary to jump Saskatchewan and sit two points clear heading into the crossover. The weekend was not a complete disappointment for Saskatchewan though, as they will head into the crossover knowing they only need 1 win to clinch the at large Western Conference berth at Nationals, and they also still have a shot at catching the Renegades for first place.
This week in the NCL
The focus for the NCL this week will be in Montreal for Senior Nationals. 6 Men’s and 6 Women’s teams have qualified for the event which will take place Friday to Sunday at Complexe Sportif Claude Robillard in Montreal. Teams from Ontario, Quebec, and Saskatchewan will be vying for the title and an exciting weekend of water polo is no doubt in store. Schedule and details for the event can be found online at


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